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My Dad’s broken horn

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A nostalgic look back on my family holidays from the 1970's

My Dad's broken Horn.

Let me take you back to 1979. The car was sticky and hot, all the windows were down, mine and my sisters' legs were stuck to the black PVC of the back car seat.  We were surrounded by picnic boxes, bedding, toys, cricket bats, buckets, spades, and a potty.  Just for the record, we were both toilet trained.  But the drive from Burton-on-Trent was 4 hours and there was no way that Dad was going to stop.  So if one of us had to go, the potty was shoved our way and after we'd done what we had to do, it was ceremoniously flung out of the window halfway down the M5.

Without fail, our annual family holiday started at 4am.  With military precision, my Dad would be standing over us until we stumbled out of bed and into the car which had been piled high the night before.  We'd rush down the motorway, only to arrive at 8am, where we'd have to kick about waiting to pick up the key to the holiday let.

That year, just for a change, we'd stopped off to visit some friends to break up the journey.  For no apparent reason, the horn started beeping every time the car hit a bump or pothole in the road.  My Dad was not famed for his patience or sense of humour, and so the more we laughed at the hilarity of the beeping, the more enraged he became. Everyone out on the street, enjoying the sunshine were staring, kids stopped playing, as our car relentlessly beeped it's way down the road.

Our annual holiday consisted of my Dad playing cricket for 5 days out of 7. My heavily pregnant Mother entertained my sister and I at the beach, at the cinema, at the swimming pool, along with the other cricket widows and their children. We would all then gather at the end of the day at the cricket clubhouse. We would wait eagerly outside the men's changing rooms, hot steam from the showers and the heady scent of Old Spice wafting out of the doors, at that moment when he came through the door, Dad was our hero. The children would all run around outside, with my Dad, in particular, giving us lessons in how to hold a bat correctly and to bowl like a boy. We would sit at the bar with the other families, sneaking sips of beer, staring in fascination at the smokers. This was my favourite part of the day, we were altogether, late at night, having fun.

My parents have now retired to Sidmouth, Devon, our annual holiday destination of the 70's and 80's.  We live in Manchester, so there are still migrations down the M5, emptying potties out of the window. After a hip replacement from years of bowling, Dad has had to give up playing, but he is now the Chairman of the very same cricket club, a job which he loves. Apart from laughing loudly every time I think about the broken horn, I have taken a few other things away from those days.....for a start, I've been teaching my kids how to bowl a cricket ball like a boy.


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